LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- September is Sepsis Awareness Month. Doctors and health officials at Comanche County Memorial Hospital are trying to get the word out about what it is and how to prevent it.
"No one needs to die from sepsis." That is what Debra Schultz's, CCMH Performance Improvement Coordinator, wants people to know after she lost her mother to septic shock last November after a simple urinary tract infection never got better.
"She was in a fast irregular heart rhythm, she had a temperature, she still had that urinary tract infection. And she had an increased demand for oxygen."
It took only 4 days from the time her mother was admitted to a hospital, until she went into septic shock, and was gone.
"It just hit. And when it hits, it's just not particular about who it takes. Anybody can fall subject to septic shock."
"Any infection can cause sepsis... If we don't act quickly, and initiate treatment immediately, minutes, often hours count and can be the difference between life or death." Sepsis is a medical emergency, and Dr. Mercedes Bernard says if someone has an underlying infection, and it's not getting any better, you need to seek medical attention immediately.
"Somebody who developed sepsis may notice that they have elevated heart rate. They may notice they aren't breathing as well. That they've had prolonged fever. And often times people will even have an altered mental status.
Debra is a registered nurse at CCMH and is also the Performance Improvement Coordinator. She teaches about sepsis at the hospital. And says she uses her mother's story to help educate people.
"It's one of those things that if you get to it in time, you can have a great outcome. You don't have to end up being a not so great outcome like my mom... My message is hard to tell, but people don't have to die from sepsis. It's a medical emergency. We need to teach people the signs and symptoms to look for. You need to know you're at risk, know the signs, and act fast."
Dr. Bernard says people can help their chances of not getting sepsis by keeping your vaccinations up to date, and also by washing your hands and living a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Bernard says anyone who has an infection is susceptible to developing sepsis. However, younger children, the elderly, and anyone whose immune system is already compromised has an even higher risk.
In other health news, the 12th annual Spirit of Survival kicks-off on Saturday, September 30th with a new event-- a bike ride of different distances for the whole family to enjoy and then on Sunday, October 1st, run or walk in any of the five Spirit of Survival race events. For more information and to register, please visit spiritofsurvival.com.